Toughie 2616 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2616


Toughie No 2616 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch


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BD Rating – Difficulty ****/*****Enjoyment *****

Today we have a pangram from Elgar. We have some very clever but not overly difficult clueing, making this a joy to solve

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Vomitory rejected delicately embroidered article? (8)
EMETICAL: Reversal (rejected) of a 4-letter article which is delicately embroidered, i.e., covered in a delicate fabric

9a    What we must play off and on to a balding captain? (8)
OBLIGATI: Regular letters (off and on … )

10a    Charge lifted, released from custody (4)
FREE: Two meanings

11a    Bloody frisky goat, a spirited and saucy type! (6,6)
BRANDY BUTTER: The abbreviation for bloody as a mild swear word (as in the *-word), another word for frisky and a description of a goat

13a    Tap glass for refreshment at 10:59:59? (4-4)
LAST-GASP: An anagram (for refreshment) of TAP GLASS

15a    Two records one in Rome opens and one in Washington concludes (6)
EPILOG: A vinyl record and a written record into which the Roman numeral for one inserts (opens). The answer is the American spelling (in Washington) of something that concludes

16a    What sequencing of heritage needs? (4)
GENE: Hidden (sequencing of … )

17a    Roughly, do you understand what I’m saying is rather scandalous? (5)
JUICY: A homophone (roughly) of a (2,3,3) phrase meaning ‘do you understand what I’m saying’

18a    Hosanna! Your motet noted in worthy mnemonic? (4)
HYMN: Both an acronym ( … in worthy mnemonic) and a hidden (in … ). Interesting, the wordplay in one reading of the clue is the definition for the other (making it hard to know what to underline!)

20a    Quotients worked out by University on _____? (1,1,4)
I Q TEST: An anagram (worked) of QUOTIENTS without (out by) the abbreviation for University + ON

21a    Annual review of pay forgetting the old man Elgar? No! (8)
YEARLONG: An anagram (review of) (pa)Y (forgetting the old man) + ELGAR + NO

23a    I realised the great potential of rubber (8,4)
ALADDIN’S LAMP: My last one in, a cryptic definition where the rubber is someone who rubs this (I, as in the answer) to realise great potential


26a    Face the sound of pop (4)
PHIZ: A homophone (the sound of) some pop, as in drink. One where the pangram might help

27a    Black suit function taken over by a supplier of fizz (4,4)
CLUB SODA: A black cards suit, a reversal (taken over) of a function or party, and A from the clue

28a    Pointer for one lecturing on ecdysis of snake? (5,3)
LASER PEN: Remove the outer letters (skin, on ecdysis) of the combination of a (1,2) French phrase mean of (e.g. ‘of’ menu) plus another word for a snake


2d/16d Where order is now martial, might it effect a turnaround? (8)
MARRIAGE GUIDANCE: The answer might help restore things MAR(IT)AL after IT is reversed (effect a turnaround)

3d    When there’s no ale left, it’s time to admit defeat! (3,6,3)
THE BITTER END: A play on another word for ale

4d    Where Wolfe famously fought the French about nothing (6)
CANADA: The Latin abbreviation for about and Spanish for nothing

5d/14d/25d Minister left perched on the end of my toilet seat (4,5,4)
LORD PRIVY SEAL: An exclamation meaning my, another word for toilet, and SEAT from the clue where the last letter is replaced by the abbreviation for left (perched on the end)

6d    Cunning snares heading off cove taking money given to slaver (8)
SLOBBERY: Another word for cunning contains (snares) a 6-letter ‘bloke taking money’ but with out the first letter (heading off)

7d    The keys to knowledge are nature and time, he thought (4)
KANT: The first letters (The keys to … ) of three words in the clue plus the abbreviation for time

8d/19d What elements of breathed air finally produce with one-to-one mixing? (8,8)
NITROGEN MONOXIDE: An anagram (What elements of … produce with … ) of the last letters (finally) of breathed air + ONE-TO-ONE MIXING

12d    Key to Telegraph Records Library initially kept in fine crack (5-7)
THIGH-SLAPPER: A 6-letter key on a telegraph machine contains (kept in) a word that could be temperature records, for example, plus the first letter (initially) of library

14d    See 5d

16d    See 2d

17d    Abandon visitor from afar in a variety of joints (8)
JETTISON: An alien visitor goes inside (in) an anagram (variety) of JOINTS

19d    See 8d

22d    Oscar and Tony say action is needed to cut bills (6)
AWARDS: Some military action goes inside (is needed to cut) another word for bills or posters

24d    Nothing weeded out from around border (4)
ABUT: The letter that looks like zero is removed (weeded out) from a word meaning around

25d    See 5 Down

My favourite today is definitely 8d/19d: a smooth all-in-one with a striking anagram, a clue that leaves one with a sense of awe and wonder – how did he do that?  So, which clues did you like?

28 comments on “Toughie 2616

  1. Nice to see Elgar back to full health/difficulty this time. I’d have given it about 5 – 6 * for difficulty if there was such a thing

    My favourites were 11a and 3d (which was actually the first clue I solved after having read all the way down the Acrosses without writing anything in the grid

  2. My progress was frustrated by the enumeration of many of the down clues (on the online Puzzles site) being all at sea but I eventually worked out what was required.

    Many thanks to Elgar for the enjoyment and to Dutch for the review (and for pointing out the pangram which I failed to notice).

    My ticks went to 15a, 23a and 6d.

    1. I’m new to the toughies and finding them very taxing. It seems most solvers use a variety of reference material. Is this ‘cheating’, or what is required/expected? I used to enjoy completing the daily cryptic on the train. Do many people solve the toughie simply on their own?

      1. Toughies vary a lot in difficulty – Tuesdays are usually the easiest and Fridays (especially when Elgar’s the setter) are the most difficult.
        Use whatever references you like. My view is that setters use a variety of references when compiling so solvers should be able to do the same (I guess it’s down to your individual conscience whether you regard this as ‘cheating’).

  3. With excessive use of electronic aids managed to complete this with exception of 12d which was a real snorter.
    Parsing assistance from Dutch appreciated for 15 and 21ac and 2 and 5d.
    While the answer was obvious I’m still unclear on 28ac.
    Thanks to Elgar for the challenge.

  4. The second O of 9 across can’t occupy the same space as the I in 8 down. Am I mis-reading something?

  5. Mystified by Elgar’s enigma variations once again. Too tough for me, but enjoyed the try nonetheless. Thanks to setter and reviewer both.

  6. Unbelievably got to within 2 of an unaided finish ( 9&26a) albeit with frequent use of the check if correct button. Opened up the review & read Dutch’s opening sentence about the pangram & 26a immediately clicked as I hadn’t used a Z. Then resolved to keep trying with 9a but couldn’t for the life of me fit an X into it not surprisingly. Read the hint & groaned as missed the off & on indicator & knew the term. Absolutely loved the puzzle though only persevered because it was chucking it down & nowt else to do. Learnt the meaning of a few words too – looked up ecdysis & wiki displayed a revolting caption of a cicada shedding it’s skin.
    A few bung ins needless to say – nowhere near parsing 28a – but I think I’ve parsed most correctly. Like CS 3d & 11a are my picks because they got me started.
    Thanks Elgar & to Dutch – will now read the review.
    Ps – it’s an X-less pangram unless I’m mistaken

  7. Incredibly I finished this. There were some bung ins and what I thought were stretched synonyms but I got there. I cannot say I enjoyed it, it was too difficult for that.

  8. Almost as well as I’ve ever done on an Elgar, which is not nearly good enough yet. Managed a bit over half on my own and a few more with my electronic gifts of 5 letters. Thanks to Dutch for the further enlightenment and to the Brilliant Elgar for another gratifying challenge. My biggest achievement, other than some long ones? 26a before I ever thought of a pangram.

  9. We managed to get all this one sorted, albeit with a modicum of electronic assistance. Took ages to parse 28a but we did eventually see it.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  10. What a brilliant pangram this was. Quite superb. I thought the clueing throughout was pretty fiendish, and it certainly deserved all the stars for difficulty and enjoyment given. 23a was my absolute favourite and would qualify for any clue of the week competition. A genuine Toughie and a great challenge.

    My grateful thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  11. Slowly going back to solving crosswords and what a better way to start than with my favourite setter.
    Failed on a couple as I went for Aladdin’s cave rather than his lamp and couldn’t get 12d although the first word was obvious. Looked in the BRB but unless I am mistaken, I couldn’t find the expression.
    Favourite is 9a as Jean-Luc Picard came to mind.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review.

  12. Too a while to get going and quite a lot longer to finish. Pangram indeed came to the rescue on 26a. Thanks to Gazza and Elgar.

  13. Completed this with one mistake. I had ‘yearling’ in 21a. I didn’t understand the parsing but then I didn’t understand the parsing of half the others either. Too much of a slog to be enjoyable.

  14. Left with a few to get in the SE corner, I went back to it this morning and rattled them off. The missing Z certainly helped me.
    Don’t recall having seen KEY to denote the first letter before.

  15. Had to give up with only 7 filled in. Read the hints to find I’d got the correct answer to 4 more, including 8 and 19d, but couldn’t justify them at all, so didn’t put them in. Might have done a bit better if I had.
    Thanks for explaining everything Dutch, and thanks Elgar

  16. Quite a toughie. I was missing 7 answers when i ran out of time on Saturday night. Looking at Dutch’s guidance 4 more came to hand bot i failed on the american spelling of 15a’ totally misread the clue on 23a the ‘i’ threw me and 12d was a non starter as far as i was concerned and despite Dutch’s best efforts i fail to see how the answer relates to a fine crack!
    Thanks to Elgar for a goodbrain teaser and to Dutch for his explanations

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